An impressive contingent of over 50 U-M ISR faculty, students, and projects participated in the 2019 conference of the Population Association of America (PAA), held in Austin, TX in April. Here is a sample of their research presented at the meeting. There was also a lot of buzz on Twitter, check out our moment: #ISRatPAA.

Congratulations to the following researchers on their award-winning posters!


Race, Childhood Structural Factors, and Cognitive Function in Later Life
Haena Lee, Shannon Ang, and Xinyu Zhang

Haena Lee at PAA

Haena Lee at the 2019 PAA annual meeting.

Using data from the Health and Retirement Study,  Haena Lee (SRC) investigated how social experiences at school and community during childhood shape cognitive health over the life course. Lee’s research showed that Blacks have lower levels of cognitive function than Whites in later life and that this racial gap is partially explained by childhood structural factors. Furthermore, Lee finds that attending racially diverse schools most of the time in childhood is associated with higher levels of cognitive function in later life net of adult experiences. “This suggests that exposure to diverse social settings may serve as mental stimuli, promote social inclusion, and diversify social interaction, benefiting cognitive outcomes over time,” writes Lee. For more information, read the extended abstract here.

Spanking and Young Children’s Socioemotional Development in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
Garrett Pace, Shawna Lee, and Andrew Grogan-Kaylor 

Country-specific slopes derived from a multilevel model of the relationship between spanking and socioemotional development among 3 and 4 year old children.

Spanking and socioemotional development among 3- and 4- year old children. (click to enlarge)

Research by Garrett Pace, (PSC), Shawna Lee (RCGD) and Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, U-M School of Social Work, suggests that spanking may be harmful for children on a more global scale than previously known. Pace et al. analyzed the relationship between spanking and socioemotional development in 62 countries.  Pace says, “What’s fascinating about this is that all the point estimates are negative, indicating that spanking isn’t associated with higher child wellbeing in any of these 62 countries.” For more information, read the extended abstract here.


See all PAA poster session winners here.

Research Highlights

WATCH: John Casterline, PAA President and Population Studies Center training alumnus, delivered the Keynote Address, “Childbearing as a Choice.”


Rising Tides Life Which Boats? Connecting Absolute and Relative Mobility Across Generations
Deirdre Bloome

Deirdre Bloome (PSC)

Deirdre Bloome (PSC, SRC) proposed a new approach toward measuring the transformation of childhood (dis)advantages into adult (dis)advantages and discussed how these mobility patterns vary across people from low- and high-income backgrounds. Extended abstract here.



The Influence of Nutrition Assistance Program Participation in Childhood on Improved Young-Adult Food Security
Noura Insolera, Julia Wolfson, and Alicia Cohen

Food security transitions 1999-2015

Food security transitions 1999-2015 (click to enlarge)

In the United States, 13% of the population is food insecure, including 21% of all children. One in seven Americans receives SNAP benefits and one in two children born each year receive WIC benefits. Using data from the Panel Study on Income Dynamics, Noura Insolera (SRC-PSID) and colleagues found that participation in these programs as a child significantly increase the odds of improving food security in young adulthood. Extended abstract here



Affording the Luxury of Negotiation: Primary Caregivers’ Rules for Adolescents
Asta Breinholt and Paula Fomby

Rule setting by family income quintiles. (click to enlarge)

How do social and economic circumstances shape how we parent? Breinholt (PSC, SRC-PSID) and Fomby (PSC, SRC) and found that affluent parents are less likely to have clear and enforced rules compared to other caregivers. It turns out that rich parents can quite literally afford the luxury of negotiating with their kids. Extended abstract here




Exposure to Global Cultural Scripts Through Media and Attitudes Toward Violence Against Women
Jeffrey Swindle

Media content in Malawi. (click to enlarge)

International organizations disseminate specific messages, or global cultural scripts, about what constitutes a modern lifestyle. A person’s exposure to these scripts can influence their attitudes. Swindle (PSC) focused on scripts that denounce violence against women as unjustified and examined the spread and influence of those scripts through media in Malawi from 2000-2016. He finds that these international organizations spread global cultural scripts critical of violence against women in Malawi through targeted radio programs and newspaper articles and Malawians’ exposure to these difference scripts has divergent effects on their attitudes. Read the paper here


Maternal Work, Schedules and Hours Volatility, and School Readiness
Natasha Pilkauskas

Natasha Pilkauskas (PSC)

Precarious employment, or uncertain or unpredictable work, has risen in recent decades especially among economically disadvantaged groups. Research has found that many workers, especially those in service-sector employment, receive schedules on short notice, have schedules that change on a weekly basis and may not have consistent level of work over time. So, how might volatility in maternal work hours and schedules in early childhood affect school readiness? Natasha Pilkauskas (PSC) found that although changes in work hours or shifts over time are not association with school readiness, irregular shifts (work that changes weekly) are associated with greater behavioral problems in early childhood. Extended abstract here


Adolescent Technology, Sleep, and Physical Activity Time in Two US Cohorts
Paula Fomby, Joshua Goode*, Kim-Phuong Truong-Vu*, Stefanie Mollborn
(* University of Colorado Boulder)

Technology use as primary and secondary activities 2002 and 2014. (click to enlarge)

Adolescents’ electronic media use has increased by 14% since 2002, with increases occurring primarily as the result of increased technology use as a secondary activity. Paula Fomby (PSC, SRC) argues that we need to start studying teens’ tech use as a health behavior to really understand implications on their development. Draft paper here




Residential Integration in the Suburbs: What Happened in Metropolitan Detroit and Why
Reynolds Farley, PSC

Trends in residential segregation in Detroit, 1940-2015 (click to enlarge)

Following the July 1967 violence in Detroit that led to 43 deaths; President Johnson appointed the Kerner Commission and they quickly and famously observed – that if present policies continued, the nation’s metropolises would soon consist of a central city with an overwhelmingly low-income minority population and a largely white and much more prosperous suburban ring. Their conclusions were based, in large part, upon their analysis of Detroit and similar Rust Belt cities. Fifty years later, the city of Detroit has an 80% minority population with a high poverty rate of 35%. However, the middle class African-American population, since 1990, has moved to the suburban ring where segregation levels – in both neighborhoods and schools – are moderate to low. This analysis describes what happened in Detroit and explores why. Read more here


Faculty Profiles

ISR’s faculty experts conduct groundbreaking and wide-ranging social science research — representing more than 20 academic disciplines. Included below are two examples of the type of work being done by members of our team.

  • Fabian T Pfeffer

    Research Associate Professor, Survey Research Center, Faculty Associate, Population Studies Center, Institute for Social Research, Associate Chair, Department of Sociology and Associate Professor of Sociology, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
    Fabian Pfeffer is Research Associate Professor in the Survey Research Center and Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology. He … more
  • L_Rowell Huesmann

    Amos N Tversky Collegiate Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies and Psychology, Professor Emeritus of Communication and Media, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and Research Professor Emeritus, Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research
    Huesmann’s research focuses on understanding the psychological foundations of aggressive behavior and in particular on understanding how the observations … more